Case Examine: The Energy of a Transformative Instructor

At Lake Value Group Excessive Faculty in Florida, Dr. Tiffany Cox finds a means to offer entry to music for younger musicians, irrespective of the problem.

For instance, she satisfied college students to remain in band for his or her senior yr by providing them customized school counseling. In an identical vein, she created a mentoring program to provide center college college students personal instrument classes. In simply three years, Cox elevated her highschool band program from 9 college students to 95.

Constructing a Group

band director Tiffany Cox playing euphonium in front of class

Lake Value is a big Title I college, and Cox notes that almost all of the two,500 college students reside at poverty ranges. A lot of their dad and mom didn’t attend school. Older teenagers are anticipated to work to assist help their households.

“In a faculty the place the band program has been failing for a very long time, and the soccer program had been by rocky patches as properly, … the varsity spirit has been missing basically,” Cox says.

Taking up as director of bands in April 2017 after the earlier director died, Cox recruited college students within the hallways; she performed brief passages on her trombone throughout class changeovers. She additionally requested her drumline members to play. “I actually stopped youngsters within the hallway and requested, ‘What instrument do you play?’ And 90% of the time, they’ve performed an instrument and had give up.”

At band camp, she emphasised enjoyable — with plenty of meals and even water balloon fights — and inspired college students to share their experiences and images on social media. “I wished all the [student] neighborhood to see what we have been doing,” Cox says. “We’re constructing a neighborhood.”

Throughout COVID-19, Cox stored college students engaged by acting at weekly volleyball video games along with the 2 allowed soccer video games. Capped at 30 college students per sport, she rotated college students by performances. She additionally centered on psychological well being, creating digital socials in addition to a mindfulness in music program.

Funding Outreach

To perform all of her targets, Cox depends on her personal resourcefulness and constantly applies for grants by varied packages. Cox acquired bell covers and face masks for her musicians by the Give a Word Basis. Via the Training Basis of Palm Seashore County, she acquired funds to purchase yoga mats to do meditation within the band room.

In whole, throughout the previous 4 years, Cox and the band program have acquired $130,000 in financial and in-kind donations. These embody funds and gadgets by DonorsChoose, the Palm Seashore Symphony, the Symphonic Band of the Palm Seashores, Lake Value Excessive Faculty Alumni Basis, Nat King Cole Technology Hope, and Give a Word for a timpani, xylophones, marimbas, a complete drumline, live performance tubas, digital keyboards, iPads and microphones.

“It’s quite a lot of reaching out to folks locally and making use of for no matter is obtainable, [whether] we get it or not,” Cox says. “It’s actually arduous to lift cash the normal means. We battle promoting cookie dough or wrapping paper. … Our communities don’t have disposable earnings. As a substitute of bleeding our neighborhood dry, we attain exterior of the neighborhood to search for grant funding.”

Center Faculty Mentor Program

Lake Worth Community band performing on stageWhen Cox observed a excessive employees turnover, poor retention and low talent ranges within the center college band program from her 5 feeder faculties, Cox recruited her college students concerned with the Tri-M Music Honor Society to mentor the youthful youngsters. Starting in spring 2018 with 5 mentors going to at least one center college, this system has expanded to contain 35 highschool college students serving to 5 center faculties. With the highschool day ending at 2:45 p.m., the scholars would go to the center college band lessons occurring over the last bell of the day till 4:00 p.m. Older musicians can be grouped with youthful ones as buddies. The excessive schoolers would give personal classes, do pullout sections, or sit in rehearsals and supply help.

“As a band director, you’re wanting on the entire sound, and typically it’s arduous to get in to see what every individual is doing incorrect,” Cox says. “[The mentor program] was an excellent and motivating factor.”

Typically excessive schoolers additionally assist by studying music and sitting among the many center schoolers throughout their concert events.

Cox herself amended her personal schedule through the years to have a planning interval in the midst of the day to assist the highschool college students with the mentorship program in addition to a planning interval on the finish of the day to have the ability to swing by any of the decrease faculties. “My schedule is purposefully arrange for recruiting,” Cox says. “Anytime {that a} center college director [asks] if I can assist with trombone, I can go over there.”

Ok-12 Inclusivity

Lake Worth Community drumline member preparing to performAs well as, together with her background educating common elementary music previous to changing into director at Lake Value, Cox often goes to the elementary faculties. As a result of the closest elementary college is inside strolling distance, Cox brings her highschool musicians to carry out there a number of occasions a yr. The drumline performs on the primary day of college as buses arrive; a pep band performs throughout the elementary college’s Halloween parade; and band college students additionally host a standardized testing pep rally.

This previous yr, the Tri-M Music Honor Society did a youth literacy initiative. For one specific ebook, the drumline performed alongside to Cox studying “Chicka Chicka Growth Growth,” and the video was despatched to the elementary faculties and aired throughout morning bulletins. “[The high school band students] coordinated [the program] with the principals,” she says. “They’re unbelievable youngsters.”

Since 2017, Cox and the highschool choir director have organized a vacation extravaganza winter live performance with their highschool packages, three center faculties, and three elementary faculties. (Lake Value doesn’t have an orchestra program, however college students concerned in orchestra can attend one other close by highschool within the district.) Every ensemble performs varied items, after which all college students take part a band/choir finale. Town funds an expert recording of the live performance. Within the 2019-2020 college yr, greater than 500 youngsters participated. “It’s a possibility to study one another and help one another and a possibility to recruit,” Cox says.

Specializing in College students’ Futures             

Cox helps her highschool musicians not solely with musical abilities but additionally with life abilities. Highschool college students be taught and get suggestions from Florida Atlantic College college students that Cox includes. “We’re engaged on recruitment and the feeder chain from elementary all the best way to collegiate degree.”

Lake Worth Community band practicing in band room After just a few years at Lake Value, Cox had observed that college students have been becoming a member of highschool band as freshmen, sophomores and juniors, after which quitting. “It was a cultural norm for youths to go to work and help the household,” Cox says. “It’s been a problem to show the children that band is a four-year factor.”

Due to this fact, beginning with the category of 2020, Cox did her personal personal mentoring with college students. She would sit down with seniors to undergo their portfolio to plan for faculty. They labored on resumes, private statements, monetary help and school scholarship functions. She would additionally herald dad and mom to work on school paperwork and talk about monetary planning, inviting native financial institution employees to open up checking and financial savings accounts. Cox additionally linked seniors with neighborhood members who would undertake them to purchase gadgets for his or her school dorms.

To date, this system appears profitable in serving to college students obtain their targets. A previous drum main acquired a full scholarship to attend the College of Florida to review wildlife conservation and ecology. Whereas school planning is obtainable by the overall counseling employees, the advisors are inundated with work, Cox says, so she determined to offer this additional help on her personal.

“My factor is with the children, no matter your aim is, no matter your dream is, we are able to make it occur for you,” Cox says. “You simply must put within the time, effort and power.”

Nicely-Deserved Accolades

For all of her efforts to rework the lives of her college students and the Lake Value band program, Cox has not solely been named a 2021 Yamaha 40 Beneath 40 music educator, however she has additionally been acknowledged as a quarterfinalist for the 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator Award, acquired the 2020-2021 Spirit Award by the Nationwide Life Group LifeChanger of the 12 months program, and in addition was one in all three winners of the Randolph A. Frank Prize for the Performing Arts by the Palm Seashore Symphony, along with different recognition.

“Lots of people suppose that we have now it actually tough [at Lake Worth] as a result of we’re in a low-income neighborhood,” Cox says. “What they don’t see are the interactions [including a recent potluck celebration] that come collectively in our band room to make a household. There’s quite a lot of misinformation about educating at a Title I college, [but] I find it irresistible. There’s nowhere on the planet that I’d moderately be than the place I’m proper now. [The students] are so inspiring. They work to make me, this program and the varsity higher. … I’m simply very lucky to be the place I’m.”